ARTS AND FEATURES — 19 March 2014

Amy Huberman with on-screen husband Hugh O’Conor (Fionan)

Shelley Marsden speaks to Amy Huberman about feelgood Irish comedy with heart, The Stag…

As the title of her latest movie The Stag suggests, actress and fiction writer Amy Huberman’s latest film doesn’t involve too many women – and she only appears at the start and the end.

“That’s my only gripe – that I wasn’t in it longer”, she laughs. “I understand the idea of a stag, but I so wanted to go with them! I wanted to get into the fun and then they were all leaving on me.”

She plays bride-to-be Ruth in John Butler’s film, which follows the antithesis of a bloky stag as he sets off for a weekend with friends before the big day.

“I didn’t envy them running around naked in the Dublin Mountains in November, so I let them off on that; that was my consolation. I’ve worked with those lads so much on other projects that I knew it would be fun for the scenes we shared.”

She read and instantly loved the script, but Amy says there are some jobs you just trust and know you want to do, The Stag being one of them.

The actors involved were all people the 34 year old had worked with before so it was, she says, a no-brainer. She’s acted with Hugh O’Connor, who plays her online fiancée Fionan, on countless acting jobs, and she relished the familiarity of working with friends who share a sense of humour (most of them have RTE comedy sketch show Your Bad Self in common).

Andrew Scott, who as best man Davit (and an ex of Ruth’s that still holds a candle for her) shines in one of his first comedy roles, was the only cast members she hadn’t worked with before, and she sounds completely smitten.

“I love him. He’s an absolute dote and we really got to know each other on set. He’s incredibly talented but he’s also (I’m sorry) possibly the nicest person in the world. I know he hasn’t been seen in comedy roles that much but he’s actually one of the funniest people I know. He’d make you laugh all day.”

As for Fionan, who early on in the film presents his future wife with an intricately designed miniature model of the reception, complete with seating plan and name cards, he’s nothing like Amy’s real-life beau, Irish rugby star Brian O’Driscoll.

She says: “Brian and I definitely had no mini dioramas of seating plans. My other half loved the wedding process and we did choose things together but there were moments when he was like, yep, off you go Amy! A lot of women would definitely be put off if their other half was talking about colour shades that are barely perceptible to the human eye.

The stag party get naked

“Fionan’s level of stress is adding to her stress but bless him, he’s involved in theatre design so he’s a creative person and that’s how he expresses himself. When he says he’d rather go on her hen than his own stag that’s when she decides no, something drastic needs to be done here.

“I think she’s needs to see a bit of manliness for him, but he’s so stressed out she reckons it would be good for him. None of his mates are really ‘stag’ types, but then her alpha male brother comes into it, and couldn’t be further more different from them. But there’s a heart to that whole story, which is interesting to watch unfold.

It did, Amy says, bring back a lot of lovely memories of her own dream day in July 2010, at St Joseph’s Church in Aughavas, Co Leitrim. Though filming in a wedding dress at seven months pregnant (with her now one-year-old daughter Sadie), she adds, was quite a challenge for the wardrobe department.

The Stag is out just days before Irish all over the world will be celebrating St Patrick’s Day – how will the Huberman/Driscoll clan be partying? “Well hubby has a big match”, she says modestly, speaking of O’Driscoll’s clash against the French in the Six Nations, one expected to be his last.

“I think we’ll probably be at home relaxing. There’s been a lot of travelling recently and Brian might be totally exhausted. We’ll probably be burnt out by then but you never know, if there are good results we could all be out on the tear!

The Stag (Arrow Films) is in UK cinemas now.

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